*****Please note that there are days where I will post more than once. So, to find out all the latest happenings and "goings-on" in our family (or my random thoughts), be sure to scroll down.*****

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Fourth Grade Week 35

Well, we finished up our 4th week of deschooling/unschooling.  I’ll admit, this was the week that doubts and uncertainties crept up.  However, I’m committed to sticking to this for the next 5 weeks, and I will!  Here’s what Caleb was up to this week.
Books Usborne First Encyclopedia of Space by Paul Dowswell
The Lego Ideas Book:  Unlock Your Imagination by Daniel Lipkowitz
The Usborne Children’s Encyclopedia by Jane Elliott & Colin King
Animals:  A Visual Encyclopedia by DK Publishing
Knights and Dragons by Igloo Books
Fearsome Creatures by Rona Skene & Simon Smith
DVDs/Movies The Bible – History Channel
The American Bible Challenge – GSN
The Planets:  Different Worlds – Netflix
19 Kids & Counting:  Duggars Do Asia – TLC
The Planets:  Life – Netflix
How It’s Made:  Nails & Staples, Safety Glasses, Fabrics, Bicycles – Netflix
How It’s Made:  Hydroponic Lettuce, Construction Wood, Fishing Flies – Netflix
Jeremiah – GMC
How It’s Made:  Robotic Arms, Tattoos, Concrete Pipes – Netflix
How It’s Made:  Wooden Doors, Paintballs, Newspapers, Diamonds – Netflix
How It’s Made:  Hockey Gloves, Snack Cakes, Remolded Tires, Wastewater Treatment Plants – Netflix
Shark Week:  Restless Fury:  Shark Attach Survival Guide – Netflix
Shark Week:  The Great Bites Collection:  Mythbusters Shark Special – Netflix
Shark Week:  The Great Bites Collection:  Day of the Shark – Netflix
Mythbusters:  Buried Alive – Netflix
Mythbusters:  Lightning Strikes/Tongue Piercing – Netflix
Mythbusters:  Killer Brace Position – Netflix
Games Played
Animal Jam – PC
Bible Battleship – PC
Ten Commandments – PC
Days of Creation – PC
Projects/Activities Treadmill – Caleb walked on the treadmill several times this week.
Email – The novelty has worn off, but he still sends a few during the week.
Planets song – Caleb was interested in planets this week, so we found the planets song on You Tube, and he learned the names of the planets.
Planets – Caleb watched a few videos on planets on You Tube for Schools.  He also did a few Solar System worksheets to see if he remembered what he watched.
Live Mocha – Someone mentioned this free foreign language website, so I emailed Caleb about it.  He chose to start working on Spanish.  So, he completed a few lessons on the site.  There are lots of languages, and I have a feeling he’ll choose others soon.  Smile
Park Play – Micah had an Easter egg hunt and picnic at the park, so Caleb tagged along.  He was able to ride his scooter and play with another homeschool boy while we were there.
Coloring – Caleb and Micah both spent a little time coloring in some coloring books.  Micah is all focused on staying in the lines now, and he does a GREAT job.
Well, there are no pictures for this week.  Oh well…maybe next week.  Smile

Friday, March 22, 2013

Fourth Grade Week 34

We finished up another week of our deschooling/unschooling adventure.  I know that to the ‘unread’ eye, it may seem like there’s not much going on.  But – you have to trust in the process, and that’s what I’m doing.  Like I mentioned before, we’re trying this out until the end of 4th grade, and we’ll reassess at that point.

Books – Caleb spent time reading the following books this week…
100 Facts:  Saving the Earth by Miles Kelly
How It Works:  Giant Machines by Miles Kelly
Discovery Kids:  So Cool!
How It Works:  Space Exploration
by Miles Kelly
Usborne Encyclopedia of World History
How to Do Homework Without Throwing Up
by Trevor Romain
Usborne Discovery:  Knights by Rachel Firth
National Geographic Encyclopedia of Animals by Karen McGhee & George McKay, Ph.D.

America Unearthed:  Hunt for the Holy Grail  -- History Channel
The Bible – History Channel
The States:  Florida, Indiana, Washington, Utah, and Rhode Island – History Channel
Nature’s Deadliest:  Australia – Netflix
Nature’s Deadliest:  Africa – Netflix
Meerkat Manor – Netflix
The States:  Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Hawaii, South Carolina, and Montana – History Channel
Deadly Dozen:  Central America – Netflix
The Lincoln Assassination – Netflix
Nature’s Deadliest:  Brazil – Netflix
Nature’s Deadliest:  Africa 2 – Netflix
How It’s Made:  Steel, Apple Juice, Aircraft Landing Center – Netflix
How It’s Made:  Holograms, Package Printing, Skin Cultures, Canned Corn – Netflix
Deadly Dozen:  India – Netflix
The American Bible Challenge – Game Show Network
19 Kids and Counting:  Duggars Do Asia – TLC

Games Played 
Animal Jam – PC
Stack the States – iPad
ToonTastic – iPad (he created a cartoon movie, and he had lots of fun with this game)
Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution – PS3

Projects or Activities 
You Tube Video of St. Patrick – Caleb’s Omi emailed him a link to this, so he watched it.

Drawing – he spent lots of time drawing with stencils.  Micah joined in on the fun, too.

Seussical the Musical – we joined up with many other homeschoolers to go see this performance at a local theater.
Save the Animals Poster – Caleb has always had a love for animals.  Well, he decided to cut out pictures of animals and glue them onto a poster.  He wanted to find out how many animals are killed every year, so we used the Internet to find the answer (58 billion...if this isn't correct, oh well...it's what we found).  Using this information, he then wrote a little bit about how animals are hunted, and he ended by asking for donations.  While I know he’d love to use this for donations, I’m not sure how well that would go…I’m not sure folks would be inclined.  We’ll continue thinking of ways to make this happen for him though…mom has to do some thinking.  Smile
Wet Chalk & Tape Resist Easter Eggs – I found this idea on Pinterest.  The boys had a lot of fun, and I think the eggs turned out great.  I’m thinking we’ll try the activity again using other shapes/holidays.


Linking Cubes – Caleb used these to spell out Micah’s name and other words (they are like Unifix cubes, but they can link on all sides).

Treadmill – Caleb spent some time walking on the treadmill this week.

Overall, our adventure is still going well.  I’ll admit that it’s hard for me to sometimes sit back and relinquish all control.  However, Caleb seems to be doing well and enjoying this process.  There's only 6 more weeks, so I think we can hang on for that long.  Smile

Friday, March 15, 2013

Fourth Grade Week 33

This was our 2nd week of deschooling (on our way to seeing if unschooling is a good fit).  It was another successful week, and everyone seems to be adjusting well.
Books – Some of the books may seem “below” Caleb’s reading level, but he read a lot of them to Micah.  So, as long as he’s reading, I’m not judging the level of the book.
National Geographic Kids – Cats vs Dogs by Elizabeth Carney
Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenfeld
Ladybug Girl & Bumblebee Boy by David Soman & Jacky Davis
Big Brother, Little Brother by Marci Curtis
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle
The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle
Brian’s Hunt by Gary Paulsen
DVDs/Movies – The Bible – History Channel
Beakman’s World – Netflix
Drive Thru History:  Ancient Rome – Netflix
Meerkat Manor – Netflix
Games Played – Mental Math Popsicle Sticks – this was something I saw on Pinterest, and Caleb really enjoyed it.  So, I will be making more…

Brain Quest Smart! Game
games with Micah (flash cards, puzzle games, etc)
Mexican Train Dominoes
Animal Jam on the PC
Projects or Activities –
Toilet Paper Roll Painting – I saw this idea on Pinterest, too.  We cut toilet paper rolls to make flowers, and then painted with them.
Symmetry Sheet – I think I found this on Pinterest, too.
Email – Caleb continues to send email.  I think the novelty has worn off a bit though.
Letter Tiles – Caleb used these to spell words and make sentences.  Micah also joined in the fun.  He spelled a few words and then wrote them on his paper.
Counting Money – Caleb pulled out the jar of plastic money and stacked it up.  He then proceeded to count what he had stacked.
Collage – Caleb made a collage using various art materials.
Pom-pom critters – Caleb made lots of little pom-pom critters using pom-poms and wiggly eyes.
Mad Libs – Caleb did several pages of Mad Libs in his huge Mad Libs book.  He gets a kick out of making the funny stories and sharing them with us.
Decoding Pages – Caleb found a few decoding pages in a Brain Games workbook that I had (I bought this many, many years ago when I taught in the public school).  He worked on a few of them.
Overall, it was another good week.  My only concern this week was his desire to watch Beakman’s World for two straight mornings.  So, on the 2nd morning, I asked him to write down at least three things he learned or heard during each show.  He kindly obliged.  Smile
Caleb seems to be happy with the deschooling process, and I’m curious to see how it continues to unfold over the next few weeks.  I also LOVE that he’s including Micah in some of the process.  Micah also seems really interested in what we’re doing, so he’s joining in the fun more now, too.  I’m looking forward to adding him in on a regular basis in a few more months.  Right now…it’s at his pace and on his terms.  Smile

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fourth Grade Week 32

I know I posted last week that Caleb had come up with HIS plan for how he wanted school to look.  However, after more reading and thinking, I looked at how much time we had left for fourth grade (about 9 weeks).  So, I decided that we’d just get into a deschool/unschool mode for these last 9 weeks and see how it works and what happens.  You never know how something will work if you don’t try…so we’re trying something new.  At the end of the 9 weeks, we’ll reassess and determine where to go from there. 
We both came up with three guidelines that will be followed beginning at 9am each school day:
1.  Electronic use must be educational (computer, iPad, DS, etc)
2.  Legos after 1pm (these are educational, but this is all he’d do if allowed)
3.  Video games after 2pm
Other than the above three guidelines, Caleb is free to do as he chooses for the morning hours.  For the next nine weeks, I’ll post the books that are read/used, the DVDs or movies watched, games played, and projects or activities.  Here’s how this week went for us…
Books – Usborne Romans by Anthony Marks & Graham Tingay
Travel Through America by Elaine Jackson
Travel Through India by Elaine Jackson 
Travel Through the Caribbean by Lynn Huggins-Cooper  Travel Through Brazil by Joe Fullman 
Travel Through the British Isles by Lynn Huggins-Cooper
National Geographic Kids – Everything Rocks & Minerals by Steve Tomecek 
Bones by Steve Jenkins 
National Geographic Encyclopedia of Animals by Karen McGhee and George McKay, Ph.D
Caleb used the ‘Travel Through’ books to find inspiration for things he could build with Legos.  He drew a picture of some sites (Taj Majah) and then worked on Lego building.
DVDs and Movies – ’The Bible’ on History Channel
’Feeding Time’ on Netflix
Lego Club DVD (this came in his Lego Club magazine a while back)
Man vs. Wild on Netflix
Beakman’s World on Netflix
Veggie Tales:  Duke and the Great Pie War on Netflix
Games Played – Dominoes – we multiplied both sides together and then determined if the product was even or odd.  Caleb then sorted the products into even and odd.
Discovery Toys Wiz Kids
Timez Attack on computer
Stack the States on iPad
Brain Age on Nintendo DSI
Treehouse Game – Even and Odd – This was an idea I found on Pinterest.  We used a deck of cards to determine if numbers were even or odd.  Then, I had him add two cards together and determine if the sum was even or odd.  I then had him multiply two cards together to determine if the product was even or odd.  Finally, he added three cards together to see if the sum was even or odd.  We played together, and the first person to reach the treehouse won.
Scrambled States of America
Projects and Activities – Magnet Kit – Caleb used this to determine what metals were magnetic.  He also made magnets by rubbing mettal objects onto the magnets.  He then watched a You Tube video on magnets.
Rock Kit – Caleb sorted and cleaned out his rock kit (this was passed down from my brothers and nephew).  He used Google to identify some that had name cards and put them in the proper spot.  He also measured some of his rocks.
Paper Bag Puppet – Caleb made several paper bag puppets.  Micah joined in the fun as well.

Caleb’s two puppets on the left and Micah’s on the rightIMG_0186
Salt Experiment – Caleb found an experiment in the ‘Rocks & Minerals’ book mentioned above.  He put 5tsp of table salt in one clear cup and 5tsp of Epsom salt in another clear cup.  He will watch them over the next week as the water evaporates and then observe the crystals with a magnifying glass.
Email – I set Caleb up with an email account, and he is LOVING it.  He’s only allowed to email friends and family, but this is a great way for him to practice spelling, punctuation, typing, and basic letter writing skills. 
Tangrams and Pattern Blocks – Caleb used these to build shapes.  He also practiced his photography skills by taking pictures of what he created.
These are all Caleb’s creations, and he took all of the pictures
Micah joined in with the Discovery Toys Pattern BlocksIMG_0184IMG_0185
Science Brain Quest Questions – He spent a few minutes reading the questions and answering them.
Geography Brain Quest Questions – same as above
Marbles – He found some marbles in his above mentioned rock collection, and he sorted them.  He then discussed marbles with his daddy.  I found a You Tube video on how to play marbles, and then he played a few games with his brother.  He’s excited about being able to play marbles with his daddy this weekend.
Shaving Cream Painting – I saw this idea on Pinterest, and I thought it would be fun to try with the boys.  We did the activity, and then I had them cut it out into an egg shape.  They had a lot of fun, and I’m sure we’ll do it again soon.
Micah’s is on the left and Caleb on the rightIMG_0168IMG_0170
Overall, I think it was a successful week.  Caleb said he really enjoyed the week because he was in control of his choices.  I think he’s a lot like me in that he likes being in control.  That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not always good, either.  So, we’ll continue this experiment and see how things are going at the end of May. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Re-Thinking Kindergarten

I’ve been doing lots and lots of reading and thinking.  Here’s a glimpse of what I’ve been reading…
Free Range Learning:  How Homeschooling Changes Everything by Laura Grace Weldon
The Unschooling Handbook:  How to Use the Whole World as Your Child’s Classroom by Mary Griffith
Unschooling:  A Lifestyle of Learning by Sara McGrath
Free to Learn:  Five Ideas for a Joyful Unschooling Life by Pam Laricchia
Project-Based Homeschooling:  Mentoring Self-Directed Learners by Lori Pickert
Deschooling Gently by Tammy Takahashi
All of the above reading has changed my view on how schooling should look for our family.  I’m not saying these books are right for you or your family, but for us…they have really helped me think outside of the box.  However, don’t think that because I’m reading books on unschooling that I’m going to become some radical unschooling person.  Nope…won’t happen.  In good conscience, I could never be that way.  There are just some things in life that I will not compromise on, and that’s one of them.  I’m not going to get into the ins and outs of radical unschooling, but feel free to do your own google search.  Smile
With all of this said, however, I am changing my view on what Kindergarten will look like for Micah.  I posted my plans, and they weren’t anything too structured or rigid.  But – after more thought and reading, I’ve decided that it is too much.  Even though it looks like a lot of fun, it’s still leading me down the same path I set out on with Caleb.  I’ve learned so much in my years of homeschooling Caleb, and the main thing I’ve learned is that learning will happen when the child is ready.  We shouldn’t force them to learn…it will happen naturally.  Not every child is ready to read at the age of 5…some don’t read until the age of 8 or later.  Your child may not be ready to do concrete math at the age of 6…it may click at a much later age.  Guess what?!!?  It’s OKAY!  They will eventually learn to read and learn how to do math.  I wasn’t that way with Caleb, and I really think it did more harm than good.  I forged on making him do things that his brain probably wasn’t ready for.  I can’t go back and change what I did with Caleb, but I can start NEW and FRESH with Micah. 
For the next year, Micah is going to play and explore at his leisure.  Our house is full of books, manipulatives, games, centers, puzzles, art/craft supplies, electronic learning, etc.  I’m not going to make Micah sit down and do school.  However, I will talk with him, watch him while he’s exploring, and take cues as to when he’s ready to learn.  We will read lots of books, play lots of games, have free time, and do whatever his little heart wants to do.  I will, on occasion, put out (this is called strewing) some items to catch his attention…this could be a book, some art supplies with directions, a new game or puzzle, etc…something that may draw him in to a guided activity.  I have full confidence that he’ll learn what he needs to learn, and I know that he’ll have fun doing so.  He will do things as they come naturally, and I pray that this will encourage a love of learning and life.
Micah is already very eager to learn, and I’m stepping out on faith that this will continue without any pressure from me.  He can learn math, how to read, all about the world we live in, and all sorts of other things just by having fun and exploring all the things around him.  I will encourage him, offer assistance when he asks, and spend lots of time watching and listening. 
I’m excited to see what his little brain will inspire him to do and learn.  It’s sure to be a fun journey, and I’m looking forward to watching my baby boy grow up.  Smile

Friday, March 1, 2013

Fourth Grade Week 31

I can finally see the light at the end of the fourth grade tunnel.  Smile  We have about 9 more weeks, and we are FINISHED!  Here’s how week 31 went…
Bible – Our questions this week were ‘Why did God allow some creatures to go extinct?’ and ‘What happened to the ark once Noah, his family, and the animals got off?’  We read Genesis 2:17, Genesis 1:31, Romans 5:12, and Psalm 33:20-22 for the first question.  We read Genesis 8:4-16 for the second question.
English – This week Caleb worked on linking verbs, predicate nouns, and contractions formed with not.  He is still doing really well with the Growing with Grammar.  It’s just the right amount of instruction and practice for him.  So, I’m glad we’ve finally found something that works for English.  Smile
Reading – Caleb started reading Brian’s Hunt by Gary Paulson.  He seems to be enjoying it, and I know there are several others in that series that may interest him. 
Math – This week Caleb finished up his last light unit.  He worked on dividing by 9, changing tens to add, setting up a division problem, negative numbers, and volume.  We are going to call it quits with Christian Light Education math and move on to the Number of the Day and real-life practical math from here on out.
We didn’t get around to too much else this week.  My dad ended up in the hospital with pneumonia (he’s much better now, but still in the hospital), so school had to be put on the backburner.  Caleb spent a good bit of time playing ‘Stack the States’ on the iPad.  He also spent some time reading several of his non-fiction books.  We also found a new series of fiction books…Big Nate.  It’s much like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and I’m glad we’ve found another series for him to enjoy.  He read the book from the library in two days…so that’s a HUGE plus.  Smile  He read a few Civil War books, but he decided he wasn’t ready to dig any deeper on that topic. 
We will start our new schooling plans next week (see my 5th grade post…I know we aren’t finished with 4th grade, but since we are at the end, I thought we’d go ahead and start the new plan).  Wish us luck as we take on this new adventure with Caleb in the pilot seat and me in the co-pilot seat.  I’m looking forward to lots of fun and learning.  Smile

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